More Laundry Headed My Way

With a family 5 I do my fair share of laundry, and I am about to do even more.

First of all I’ve got these itty bitty baby girl clothes to wash.

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Aside from the items I got from Carter’s all of this stuff came from a yard sale I went to last weekend. They had a two year old girl that was born in the winter so the stuff was perfect for our baby. The deal was all you could stuff in a grocery sack for $5. Well, call me Doc McSTUFFINS. I was all over it and now we should be set for the first 3 months of clothes.

I am also excited about pulling out the cloth diapers again. Every time you use a cloth diaper the cost per wear goes down and that makes the pay off for the initial investment even better. My cloth diaper stash paid for themselves a long time ago so now it’s just the cost of soap, water, and electricity.

And get this, the cost of soap and dryer time is even lower now since I’ve discovered Eco Nuts.

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I had never heard of this unique product before, but they sent me some stuff to try and it’s perfect timing for me! I’m not going to lie I normally just pick up whatever is on sale when I’m grocery shopping. The one time I am picky about my detergent is when I have baby. I don’t want to ruin the absorbency of my cloth diapers and I don’t want to irritate the delicate newborn skin so I have always been particular about what I use with a newborn.

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Despite the name and the appearance of Eco Nuts they are not really nuts. Though they are called soap nuts they are actually berries from a Sapindus mukorossi (Soap Berry) tree in the Himalayas. Inside the shell of these berries is something called saponin which is a natural cleaning agent that truly does work as a laundry detergent. I have been trying it for a couple months now and I don’t know if I am still used to how out of the ordinary it is, but it does get clothes clean.

You just put 4 or 5 berries in the little sack that is provided and you use the same berries up to ten times.

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They have a guide on their website that is more specific. Don’t worry you don’t have to keep a chalk board and tally each time you use one, you will be able to tell by the way the berries look.

I also got to try out their liquid detergent and wool dryer balls.


I LOVE the dryer balls because I am pretty much a fan of anything reusable. Also the kids have gotten a kick out of helping with the laundry since I’ve incorporated balls and soap nuts.

Now for the downsides. I know it’s natural and all, but I do miss that artificial perfumy smell that comes with liquid soap and dryer sheets, but I would have gone perfume free when the baby came anyway.I always do.

I also don’t particularly like the hassle of having to make sure I don’t throw the berries in the dryer. HOWEVER, there is a solution to both of these legitimate complaints.

  1. You can add essential oils to the dryer balls if you want fragrance and then you get to pick exactly what scent you want!
  2. The bags usually fall to the bottom of the load on their own making them easy to find (like coins). However it is possible that they could get tangled in with the clothes especially if you are like me and toss your wet clothes into the dryer by the arm full. If you do accidentally dry your soap nuts it’s not going to hurt anything. I have only done it twice. So out of all the benefits of Eco Nuts that really is a small inconvenience.

There is so much more I could say about these products and if you are like me you probably have some questions. The Eco Nuts website is full of information. They have videos, savings comparison chart, cloth diaper details, and local retailers (which makes even more savings when you don’t have to pay shipping). Speaking of savings, right now there is a offer that allows you to get 10% off with the coupon code EcoFall2015 .

If you want to know more go to . It’s all very fascinating and worth looking into even if you don’t decide to go the organic soap nut route. I am looking forward to see how it works with the baby clothes and cloth diapers and I’ll be sure to keep you posted.IMG_4800

By | September 18th, 2015|Babies, Babies & Toddlers, Frugal Living, Natural Living, Parenting Tips|2 Comments

Freedom From Parenting Guilt

Like most parents I fear that I fall short with my children. I worry that I don’t have what it takes as a mom and that I could possibly ruin my one shot at this child rearing thing. It’s not a constant thought, but it’s this lingering insecurity. I used to love to listen to a pastor named Miles Welch, who had a podcast for college students. I was way too married and grown up for the topics be applicable to me, but I tuned in anyway and I am glad I did. One day I was sweeping the kitchen while casually listening to the Q&A session on the podcast* when there was a question from a young man asking how he could forgive his dad who was responsible for breaking up the family with a divorce. What Miles had to say in response pretty much jumped out of iTunes and punched me in the gut (in a good way).
He said
“You know, that is a hard question. At some point I was really disgruntled by my parents. I had to learn to accept them for who they were – limited and faulted. You can’t put too much
hope in humanity, we are flawed, fallen people. Now there’s hope in Christ, but we shouldn’t have an idealistic view of humanity. We place too much hope in what a person can be. I used to be really angry that my parents left a mark on my soul. Now that I am a parent I know that every parent leaves a mark on a soul. I am going to for my daughter and I don’t know how to stop it. I feel like I can protect my child from Hollywood. I can protect my child from crazy teachers, and soccer coaches. I can protect my child from anybody but me, because I will leave a mark, and I am a broken person, and as hard as I try I will fail her and she will have to learn to forgive me. She was wired to have a perfect father, and she has me instead.”
I almost dropped my broom in the kitchen when I heard that and it’s stuck with me for all these years. My children are wired for a perfect father and I can’t meet that need and I am not supposed to be expected to. It was in that moment that the weight of the world fell off of my shoulders and Christ set me free from that guilt and insecurity. I was
wanting to be God to my children. Now don’t get me wrong I want to show Christ to them every moment that I breathe 24/7, but the fact of the matter is I mess up time and time again. The further along I go on this parenting journey I can see how it is actually helpful for my kids to see my weakness, to see me grappling with reality.  That way some day they can see that even though I often struggled as a mother and wife, God’s grace was/is sufficient for me. Maybe they will learn that God is who they need to ultimately fulfill them not a parent, friend, or spouse. I pray that it teaches them about forgiveness and that they will truly embrace the grace of God that is there for them as well.
This is post was originally published October 6th, 2014 as part of a 31 Day Series. 
The quote was taken from * Miles Welch, 12 Stone podcast- Marriage and Divorce episode #76 June 28, 2011
By | September 14th, 2015|Family, Motherhood, Parenting Tips|11 Comments

Books and Toys for 8 Year Old Boys

As you may have noticed I have been in birthday mode and that is what sparked the idea for a list of gift ideas, but even if there are no children’s birthdays coming up for you in the next few months Christmas is right around the corner (only 104 days to go).

Keep in mind that although these are things my 8 year old boy loves, the age and gender is definitely not limited to that. I hope that these gift ideas are an inspiration for shopping for kids in general!

Snap Circuit Kit

This kit is AWESOME. Z got his for Christmas a couple years ago. Children can build real electronic gadgets by following the instructions and snapping the pieces into place. You can make a fan that flies up into the air, an alarm, a voice recorder and dozens of other fun games and electronic projects. There are several different kits varying in skill level and price range. This is the one that Z has. He still needs an adult’s help when he plays with it, but it has been a wonderful activity for him and his dad to bond over.





Razor scooter

Z got his Razor last year for his 7th birthday. Since then we have searched Craig’s list, yard sales, and thrift stores to get one for each family member (except Ezie, he has a three wheeled scooter because he is still too little). The recommended  age is 5 and up. The handle height adjusts and the scooter can fold up and fit in a small places. You can easily throw them in a car trunk or closet. Anyway the Razor is a lot of fun. Even J and I enjoy riding them and we’re in our 30’s!

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Encyclopedia Brown

Z just happened to find one of these books at a thrift store recently and since then I have been telling everyone about them. I was late to the party on this successful series (the first book was published in 1963 and the last one was 2012). The books are so cool because each chapter is a mystery that Encyclopedia Brown solves, but they don’t tell you what the conclusion is! You have to see if you can figure it out for yourself and then you can look up the answers in the back. The stories are tons of fun and anything that encourages boys to read I am all for! It would be a great read for families to do together for ages 8 and up.

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The Day the Crayons Quit

This one is really intended for children under 8, but similar to many other children’s books it can be appreciated at any age. All three of my kids were laughing out loud and loving this story from beginning to end. They request it almost every night. Not to brag, but I am known to do a variety of dramatic voices when I read out loud and this book presents many “colorful” characters to really get crazy with. I will admit though, one of the reasons my kids love the book is because the crayons are so sassy, so you might want to review the story ahead of time to make sure you feel it’s appropriate for your situation.

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I don’t think I need to go into a detail about why legos are so great. Most boys at this age love legos and Z is one of them. That’s that.

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Nerf Gun

Just like with Legos the Nerf brand is a childhood classic. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but Nerf is another one of those toys that J and I seem to enjoy as much as the kids and we may or may not have had Nerf wars with each other. Check out this post about how to do your own target dart game.

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Science Kit

My 8 year old boy loves video games and screen time of all kind. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that to a degree, but I try to encourage other forms of play and more intellectually stimulating activities. He loves doing hands on science experiments and for his birthday this year he got his second science kit. Both of them have been a HUGE hit.


The World According to Humphrey Hamster

This is a book that his class started reading this year. It’s actually a series and Z has fallen in love with it. It’s written from the view point of the classroom hamster. Again, anything that gets boys reading I am going to shout from the roof tops so that’s why I am sharing this book. It might be a little advanced for an 8 year old, but that’s probably a good starting point, especially to read aloud to them.

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All of the items on the list have been owned and tested by my child/children and approved by me! Not to mention I compared them with other lists online and it only confirmed that these are very popular interests so it’s not just my wacky family that likes this stuff (which could totally happen). I did link to Amazon for more info and I am an Amazon affiliate, but these products should not be difficult to find at any local toy/book store.

By | September 11th, 2015|Parenting Tips, Schooling|3 Comments

Keep Your Kids Inside When Mowing the Lawn

Yesterday I mentioned Jude in my post about having a special needs child.


While Jude has always been special, adorable, and loads of fun he wasn’t born with any disabilities or particular medical issues. However, just over a year ago he lost part of his legs due to a tragic lawn mower accident. I will never forget the day I got the message from my friend Jen last summer. J and I have been friends with this couple for almost 10 years now. Jen even contributed to the Messy Mom blog during my Lots of Hope in a Little Home series by allowing us to peak into her house and catch a glimpse of some of the brilliant strategies she uses to homeschool in a small space.



This was one of the photos posted on my blog. That’s Jude on the far left. Now they have FIVE kids.


As I said yesterday, there are so many ways that I can relate to their story. I learned that SJ was deaf just after I had discovered that I was pregnant. When her surgery was scheduled I wasn’t sure if I was going to go into labor! Luckily, Ezie came early. Weeks later SJ got her first cochlear implant. The hospital gave us a little wagon for Ezie to sleep in so that he could stay with us in the hospital room after her surgery.

When Jude had to have his surgery very soon after the incident Jen was VERY pregnant. She even had to switch the hospital that she had originally planned to give birth at so that she could be at the same hospital as Jude. Their story really is a miraculous one. I won’t go into details because she has graciously agreed to do a guest post sometime which would be awesome! This whole family just radiates the love of Christ and their story has impacted so many already!

In fact they traveled across the country not that long ago to be a part of a campaign called Limbs Matter which raises awareness about lawn mower safety.

First of all, the local news station did a really great story last year with a follow up this year and I definitely encourage you to watch the clip.

Also, here is a video from the public service announcement they were a part of. It explains what Limbs Matter is all about.

The message is clear and simple “Keep your kids inside when mowing the lawn”. These kinds of irreversible incidents happen on a DAILY basis. I love Greg’s (Jude’s dad) message that he shared along with this video on Facebook

“Here it is.. Please share this friends! Had you asked me the day before our accident if I would ever back up over one of my children with the mower I might’ve chuckled at you and said, “Of course not I’m safe!” Well here we are with a double amputee. It can and does happen. I’m not a fear monger but I do hope to get the stats of these accidents going in the opposite direction.”

By the way Greg is the one with glasses at the end and you can probably recognize Jude from the shoes.

Greg is totally right. They are not fear driven people. They are also really responsible and cautious. Knowing this family on a close personal level I can say that it could happen to anyone. Accidents can and will happen, but as these families have conveyed if they help one child or one family not to go through this then it’s totally worth it. So spread the word about Limbs Matter. Share the videos and go like their Facebook page.

I am so proud of Greg, Jen, Jude and their whole beautiful family. Jude is such a fighter. He really does NOT quit and he is so strong and active. I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next!


By | September 1st, 2015|Parenting Tips, Special Needs|2 Comments

Living in Holland (Thoughts From a Special Needs Mom)

If you have a  child diagnosed with some form of special needs then you have probably come across the “Welcome To Holland” essay by Emily Perl Kingsley. Basically it compares the shock of finding out your child has a disability to the feelings you would have if you planned a trip to Italy, but landed in Holland. The idea behind the whole analogy is that Holland isn’t BAD it’s just different and may take time to readjust your original plans and learn your way around.

The comparison applies to my situation well. I thought I was raising a perfectly “normal” (for lack of a better word) child the first two years of her life before I learned that SJ was deaf. I was speaking Italian, bought all the guide books for Italy, and really believed I was in Italy until that point which I consider my crash landing in Holland.

I have known about SJ’s hearing loss for 3 years now. The 2 1/2 year mark was a significant threshold for me because at that point I knew that my daughter was deaf longer than I knew her as (I thought) a hearing child.

It really does get easier. I have an appreciation for Holland. I’ve met lots of new friends here and learned so much. I’ve got the Holland guide books and maps now. I might as well have a tshirt and bumper sticker declaring my loyalty to Holland! There are moments though. There are moments you remember this wasn’t your original destination. I am being candid because I know I am not the only special needs mom going through this.

For example I have never babied or coddled SJ for her disability. She can truly accomplish anything she wants to do. She has been learning to swim this summer and let me tell you she is a champ. She fearlessly tackles this mission with great passion and fervency. She does so without the use of her cochlear implants so she is completely without hearing the whole time. I try to sit by the pool for a little break and she will tug on me and sign  “Practice! Practice! Mom, practice.” I see her going after it with all she’s got and when she comes up for air with the splashes of water blurring her vision I scream “Good job. Take a breath. KICK! KICK! KICK! You’ve got this!” but I know she can’t hear me. She can’t even read my lips or see me with the conditions that we are working with in that moment and I have felt helpless. Similarly, when my three kids are going to sleep (they share a room for now) I lie there in the dark with them for a while and Ezie says he wants to pray. After he finishes he wants his sister to take a turn. I tell him SJ can’t hear us right now because she doesn’t have her implants. If it were light it would be different because she reads lips so well, and with her implants she is just communicating non stop, but the next night we went through the same thing and Ezie said SJ needed to get her implants. He’s two and just starting to verbalize more himself, so it’s kind of heart breaking to hear him process all of it for the first time. Add to some of these emotions that SJ is starting kindergarten and she can’t go to the same school or have the same opportunities as her brother and it’s just another layer of Oh yeah, I was supposed to be in Italy.


I know I shouldn’t feel guilty sharing some of these stories, but I do because we are so blessed and I love SJ exactly as she is. We are to the point now that if I try to think of what life would be like if she weren’t deaf I absolutely can’t wrap my brain around it because it’s a part of who she is. It’s like trying to picture what she would be like if she had been a boy. That’s just not who she is and I don’t want to change a thing.

As far as the little bumps in the road, we can purchase special gear that she can wear in the water to swim with her cochlear implants on. We can make sure everyone takes a turn praying in bed before SJ takes her implants off. She goes to a phenomenal school, and will have tons of wonderful experiences this year in Kindergarten. These are really minor things, but as in the Holland analogy it’s different and it takes some getting used to.

I have a friend whose son just crossed the one year mark of being a double amputee and that family has the most incredible testimony.


I have loved cheering them along as I have watched all that their little man has achieved and I can’t wait to see what comes next. They have a caring bridge site where they post updates about Jude’s progress. Reading some of their experience has been like reliving my own. Even though SJ has artificial hearing and Jude has artificial legs there are just TONS of similarities.

I don’t know it all (that’s for sure) but since I feel like I am a couple years ahead on this journey I shared with my friend what I have come to realize after being thrown into the world of special needs parenting. I wanted to encourage her that just because it’s been a year doesn’t mean that you should be completely adjusted and move on. It’s been 3 years since SJ’s diagnosis and we are still in the transition stage. I look at the timeline like this Old normal, shock, transition (or adjustment, or adaptation), and then new normal.

processing stages

We spent just over two years living in the old normal, there was probably a year of living in shock and just doing my best to stay afloat. The last two years have been transition and we’ll be here for a while. I feel pretty darn close to “New Normal” but we still have such a long way to go. I feel like for us that will be when she goes to main stream schooling. I’m sure it looks different for everyone and more experienced moms could give a lot more insight into all this and the multifaceted layers. I am just learning, but this is my message for those in similar situations. Don’t feel like you have to rush into coping or adjusting. It’s going to be uncomfortable at times for some more than others, and somedays you are in Holland with a map from Italy. That’s okay, you will get there. I will get there. Our precious babies will get there and boy will we have stories of all the adventures we’ve had!

By | August 31st, 2015|Motherhood, My Life, Parenting Tips, Special Needs, Uncategorized|6 Comments

Ideas for Helping Kids With Daily Routines

“Routines involve repetition.  Repetition involves predictability. Predictability involves stability. Stability involves security.  Kids crave routines because routines make kids feel safe and secure.” – Maci Elkins

When I was a new mom I read “Baby Wise” which is a book about getting your little bundle on a schedule from the beginning. I quickly learned that that approach would NOT work for me. I am the messy mom. Laid back is my middle name. Just call me The Messy Laid Back Mom. Actually, don’t call me that.

The fact is we have had to be flexible because the past 3 years of our life has demanded it. On the other hand, as my babies get older and more independent I realize they require more routine to help them navigate through this unpredictable world. So this week I have been focusing on the topic of routine and structure, but sometimes (or in my case most of the time) that concept is easier said than done.

The other day my friend Tiffany posted this question-

What do you moms do with your kids after school? In my house, there’s just a lot of fussing, boredom, and people complaining about doing homework. Would appreciate your ideas. THANKS.

I already shared our morning and afternoon routine, but that isn’t even half the battle. You can schedule your day down to the minute but how do you get a rowdy bunch of little ones to go along with your plans? In Tiffany’s case this means 4 kids, including 2 year old twins and 4 and 6 year old boys. There is certainly no easy answer to that question, but I can tell you what has worked for me and share some other ideas that I found online.

For my family, it’s all about the timer/alarm. I have about a dozen alarms on my phone that go off throughout the day. These alarms are set for everything from just waking up to reminding me to go get the kids from school. All of those things that I listed yesterday are all alarms on my phone.





Granted, if my volume is down or my phone is in the other room I may not hear it, but I usually have my phone with me and these are activities I am anticipating anyway so the phone is more of a backup.

My oldest son made the system a little more fun last year by adding emojis and special ring tones. This was totally his own doing by the way. He also added more alarms that said “Too late” or “Really really late!!!!” with little screaming emojis… which I deleted. He knows us too well.

I love the alarm sound options. I use the ducks for bath time and the robot for when it’s time to leave (my mom mentioned that it sounds like it is saying “beep-ba-beep Time To Go” and now we sing along when it goes off. Also, the crickets are a great signal that it is time for bed. As a bonus the kids love it when they have a day off school and my alarms are still going off because they are set for every weekday. They love to laugh and joke about it, “Uh-oh. Time to go to school- NOOOO!” It’s a fun reminder of the responsibilities that they are off the hook for on that special day.

So the kids get some visual and auditory cues that times up and we are moving on to the next activity. It’s even a sensory tool in some ways because the phone vibrates and at times I have had to bring it up to my daughter with hearing loss to let her feel and see that the alarm was going off. Last year I wrote a post called The Magic Kitchen Timer . I talked about how the timer is a great alternative to just nagging and screaming because a machine is not an emotional being. It can’t be offended or manipulated.  The routine becomes more about the clock and less about you just being mean. Your kids will still whine and protest, at least mine do. And you will still have to nag at times. For me though, I feel so much more prepared and armed when I have my timer to blame. Hey, the timer said times up, not me!

*I repeat, this has not eliminated all struggles in our home. Some days are better than others. Long term results have definitely been positive though or I would not have kept it up for the past three years .*

Here are a few links to some other schedule incentives that I thought looked promising. 

Pill box reward tool by The Inclusive Church. 


Having treats for every little thing might be overkill on a daily basis, but this system was designed for special needs kids in a church program and for those situations it seemed pretty cool.


For older kids you could just hang up a list. This printable schedule by Smashed Peas and Carrots reminded me a lot of our routine.



I thought this clock looked like a great idea to give kids a visual.

The fussing, boredom, and complaining that Tiffany mentioned is not in any way unusual and unfortunately somewhat inevitable, but hopefully these ideas can help.

Maybe you have a creative solution of your own. Please feel free to share it in the comments. It might be just the thing another mom needs to hear!


By | August 27th, 2015|Parenting Tips, Schooling, Special Needs|5 Comments

3 Ways To Screen Netflix (and other forms of entertainment)

Yesterday I explained why the media diet your children are on is so important, but how do we know what is healthy when it comes to the entertainment they consume?

The answer is that it’s pretty much the same way we figure out what is healthy when it comes to the food they consume, and it’s easier than you think!

1. Read the Labels

Just like the packaged food we buy is required to have nutrition information, the shows you watch do too! They are called TV Parental Guidelines and appear in the upper left hand corner.

I am shocked at how many people do not know what those letters stand for (and for a while I was one of them). If you have wondered yourself than here you go-

  • Y is all children
  • Y7 is directed to older children
  • TV Y7 FV is appropriate for older children, but may contain more intense violence
  • TVG stands for General Audience
  • TVPG stand for Parental Guidance
  • TV14 is Parents strongly cautioned and probably not appropriate for chidden under 14
  • TVMA is for mature audience only (unsuitable for anyone under 17)

  • D is dialogue (which I used to think was drug references)
  • L is for crude language
  • S is sex
  • V is violence
  • FV is fantasy violence

And here is my nerdy little secret, although these ratings are intended to help parents know what is suitable for children, my husband and I use them as adults. Can you imagine!? We are grown ups that are allowed to watch whatever we want and yet we CHOOSE to filter some stuff out according to the TV ratings. We are that crazy.

2. Do your research

Just like at the grocery store you can’t always count on on the FDA when you get really serious about your diet you have to actually do some research to see what is in the foods you are eating. Same thing with TV  and movies, the little labels don’t tell the whole story. That’s why I love Focus on the Family’s Plugged In  website. You can look up any show, movie, music, or video game and it will give you a thorough review of what to expect according to specific categories which include

  • Positive Elements
  • Spiritual Content
  • Sexual Content
  • Violent Content
  • Crude or Profane Language
  • Drug and Alcohol Content
  • Other Negative Elements

There very well may be spoilers when you have this much detail in your review, but this resource has been absolutely critical for me. I want to kiss the computer screen when I look up a movie for my kids and realize what I avoided exposing them to thanks to this website! And again, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to using it to see what I wanted to invest my personal time watching.

Common Sense Media is a very similar concept to Plugged In and is an excellent resource. The main  difference that I am aware of is that Plugged In is from a specifically christian perspective. The advantage of Common Sense Media is that many of their reviews are built right into Netflix. 

If you are browsing Netflix and click on the title of a show or movie, then you will see the members star rating, and the description. It’s kind of hidden, but if you scroll down on the right you will see movie details, awards, rating, and then BOOM “Common Sense Media Rating”.

Click on that to get a detailed description of how kid friendly the content of the show is. I just randomly chose Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and My Fake Fiance’ for screen shots to show you what it looks like . 

This is such a great option for me when searching for what to watch because I usually want to read the description anyway and then you have this Common Sense rating conveniently right there.

3. Don’t put the junk where they can access it

Another Netflix option that I am so grateful for is the customized account settings.

When our kids browse through Netflix they only have access to children’s programing, which is so nice even if only to avoid some of those disturbing movie covers. To set up this option click on your account icon in the upper right hand corner then select manage accounts and click on that to create an individual account for everyone in your family. For your children’s accounts you can check the box that says children 12 and under. Then you can click the option for little kids or older kids to make it even more customized. We don’t have TV,  (we have a TV screen, but we don’t have access to any channels) but for those that do the V-Chip is a great way to do the same thing I have just described here. If your TV was purchased in the past 15 years than it has one!

Almost all of our modern day technological devices conveniently have parental controls built in you just have to know how to use them. 

For us this means having passwords on the Wii and Apple TV. No little early morning risers can just sneak in the living room and watch TV or play games without going through us first because they have to have the password.

To set this up on the Apple TV go to the main menu then select Settings >General>Restrictions and choose a 4 digit pin number.

To set this up on the Wii go to options>Wii Settings then pus the +button, and click parental controls. Then Click yes and a make a 4 digit pin number.

And here are some other links for parental control setup for the iPhone/iPad, Xbox, You Tube, and Amazon instant video.

Just remember, that while these features are certainly helpful they are NOT a substitute for parents actively observing and deciding what is being viewed in their home.   

Those are just 3 basic tips for trying filter what our children are watching. This of course is only scratching the surface. My children aren’t old enough to have their own gadgets or use the internet yet. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it and I’ll do another post twice as long for how to screen that content! I loved reading the comments yesterday about how some moms have chosen to make reading or outdoor playtime and artistic expressions the priority in their home. Why not tell the TV to take a backseat, especially during these critical formative years. I like that! However, if you’re children are going to have any television or movie time at all, these resources are such a blessing for parents to really know just how healthy or UNHEALTHY their media choices are. 

If you have any other advice or tips for content filtering please share in the comments. I know this list isn’t exhaustive and I’d love to hear from you! 

By | February 27th, 2015|Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|7 Comments

Healthy Media Habits For Children

Last week I blogged about the entertainment industry, 50 Shades of Grey and all that stuff (and there is a lot of STUFF). I really appreciate the tremendous amount of supportive feedback I got from you all, but that was for adults. What about what our kids are watching?

How do we know what is appropriate entertainment for our children in a culture that is saturated with disrespect, lust, greed, and all kinds of mixed spiritual messages? 

To some degree it’s the same way we find things that are healthy for our kids to eat in a culture that is obsessed with sugar, preservatives, and convenience food. I’ll admit that I am not the best example of feeding my kids a healthy diet, but I have made it a major focus this year and since then the magnitude of the junk they consume is becoming apparent to me.

We don’t have to let food trends and cereal commercials determine what we feed our children, the same way we don’t have to let production companies dictate what they consume on a spiritual level.

We have the opportunity as the gatekeeper of our homes to decide right now what kinds of content our children are viewing on television or in movies.

Children, especially preschool age, are little sponges. At that stage they are observing and soaking up everything they see every waking hour and using it to shape their worldview and learn how to navigate through life. So this TV stuff is pretty important, but what do we do about it?

Just like with diets there are hundreds of different approaches to living a healthy lifestyle. What your kids watch and how much they watch is a very personal decision. However, no matter what your convictions are you have to know how to implement them.

First of all whether food or TV, leading by example is going to be the most effective thing you can do. This is really true in any area of parenting. “Your words and standards will carry more weight if you practice what you preach and limit the amount of time you watch TV or spend on the computer. Also, your kids notice the kinds of movies and shows you watch, so model responsibility there as well.” (from the book “Wild Things The Art of Nurturing Boys”)

Another TV tip that goes hand and hand with the food comparison is to focus on the positive and make an activity out of it. If your children are involved in cooking with you, or really engaged in learning about gardening they are more likely to want to eat healthy.

So consider watching TV with your child. I know, that is the one time you have to break away, but on occasion you can really see what it is that they are consuming and take the opportunity to talk about it whether it’s good or bad. For example “Oh, that was not a nice. They shouldn’t call people idiots”. It’s also a great time to discuss emotions or interests with your child. On the contrary, If you just bark out orders about what they should be eating or watching it is less likely to be a habit they will ever truly obtain.

These are just a couple of the many strategies for implementing media boundaries and guidelines in an effective way.

Tomorrow I am going to share some really practical advice on how to use some of the free content filtering options that are available.

So check back then for Part two (Monitoring TV and Netflix).

By | February 26th, 2015|Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|9 Comments

1,2,3,4 I Declare a Nerf War

Baby it’s cold outside. I don’t know about where you live, but it’s 12 degrees out right now in the Cincinnati area and that’s warm compared to what it’s been. Twice this week my children have had  school delays because of ice and dangerously cold temps. So we haven’t had too much outdoor activity lately. However, all three kids got nerf guns for Christmas and J had the brilliant idea to facilitate a nerf gun challenge in our little apartment on Wednesday night. 
Here he is explaining the rules and the point system to the family. 

Z and J are notorious for sticking out their tongues when they concentrate.

SJ had the chance to do archery once and she loved it as well as the nerf gun. She is quite the marksman or markswoman? 

Ezie did okay with assistance for the first game, but by the second round he was disqualified. 

That’s right SJ, you may want to take cover, mama’s got a loaded nerf gun. 

Lastly, there is this photo. Out of dozens of shots, the bullseye was hit only one time and one time only. Who could the skillful participant be that victoriously earned the number one spot that evening? 
ME!? That’s right, I pretty much got lucky. That’s really the only explanation, but I did win, at least the first game. Thank you. Yes, thank you. I appreciate all the congratulatory remarks. 
Now then, if this looks like your idea of family entertainment then here are a few details of what worked for us.
In the past we bought really cheap guns from big lots. They worked fine, but they are not as powerful nor do they hold up as well. 
This time we used Nerf Fire Blasters along with the Nerf N Strike suction cup dart refill pack. They hit so hard that we had to back up to the furthest corner of our apartment to make it work. That means you will need to allow for 20 feet of distance in the area you want to play. If your suction darts don’t stick at first keep trying and give them a chance to break in. Ours worked better the second time we played.
The target was drawn on a window with liquid chalk erasable marker
The points system was 
1 point if your gun hits the window at all
  5 points if it sticks. 
The big points come in if you actually get it within the target. 

Everyone got 5 darts per turn and then we played for 5 rounds each. 25 chances total, and the person withe most points at the end wins.

Judging from our experience I would recommend the game for ages 5 and up.

So that was our little nerf tournament and we really did have the best time. I know they are all anxious to play again.

How are you holding up this winter? Anyone have cabin fever yet? 

By | January 9th, 2015|Creativity, Family, Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|8 Comments

Be There

I don’t know about you but I’ve had a lot of teachable moments in the past 31 days and I’m sure my children can say the same. In a lot of ways I feel like I’ve failed miserably practicing what I preach this month. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been focusing on it so much that I’ve made myself over think it, or maybe I’m just noticing it more because I’ve been writing about it. One thing is for sure though the enemy loves to tear us down and make us feel like we’re not good enough. I’ve had several people from friends, to my own husband and my mother tell me (in reference to this series) how they feel like they are not parenting the right way or that they didn’t do things the right way when they had a chance. 

That is not the result I was going for when I set out to write about Teachable Parenting. And this is what I would like to say to everyone that is reading this: 

Stop beating yourself up. I am talking to you. You, wiping your child’s nose. You doing the dishes. You getting disapproval from others because you let your child sleep with you, and you getting disapproval from your child because you won’t let them sleep with you. You who are late to get your child to soccer, and you who feels bad that you can’t afford soccer. To the bottle feeders, and the breast feeders, the loud mom, the mean mom, the Pinterest mom, and the laid back mom. 

You are enough. 

Please be encouraged. You are doing an amazing job. Your sacrifice is meaningful. You are capable and equipped. You are chosen. You are qualified. You can do this. 

To sum it all up I’d like to leave you with some advice from a young man who spent most of his life in prison. I met Brandon Young this past Sunday when a ministry group called Hope Royale came my church. The men were different ages and had different backgrounds, but their commonality was that they had all spent a good deal of time in jail and now have come to a place of restoration with powerful testimonies to share about their journeys. At the end of the service a panel was opened up for question-and-answer time. We were all encouraged to ask them anything we wanted. It could be about drugs, alcohol, jail, suicide attempts, anything. I hesitated because this was a big group and we had to speak into the microphone, but then I thought why not, this is a great opportunity for me. So I stood up and I briefly mentioned the project I’m working on about parenting and my question was “What advice would you have for parents? What one thing would you say to help them steer their children away from such hardships? Brandon looked me in the eye and he just simply said, 

Be There.

As he paused my eyes began to well up with tears with the gravity and complexity of the statement. He expounded just a little bit by saying “My parents weren’t perfect, but they weren’t even there. Just be there for your kids.” I thought it was interesting this 24 year old young man would say he didn’t need perfect parents. He just needed parents that were there for him. 

I’d like to repeat what I said that the father shared with his daughter at her 16th  birthday which is that no matter where she finds herself he will be there for her. Just like Christ promises us, just like the prodigal son. Hopefully our children don’t have to go through all these dark struggles that we so strongly want to keep them away from, and there are things we can do to help them for sure. Of course  listening is important, chores are important, our words are important, our actions are important, but after 31 days and tons of tips telling you what I’ve learned about Teachable Parenting I’d like to leave you with one simple piece of advice from my new friend Brandon. 

Just be there for your kids.

 Be There.

This is the end of a 31 day series. For the rest of Teachable parenting click HERE.
By | October 31st, 2014|Motherhood, Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|8 Comments